Battery technology wasn’t up to typical car use until a few years ago. You can still buy a used Nissan Leaf for a reasonable price that will need to be charged every 100 miles. Given the average UK car owner generally drives it 20 miles a day, how often will that be?

The family road trip is part of life these days. Many of us like to visit our parents or go on a long run to the coast or mountains. If you’re lucky you may do 5-7 runs like that every year. If you’re an average driver using your car daily as well as five longer runs a year, one in 73 runs a year will be where you may need to charge your car while making your way there and back!

Mercedes Concept Does 620 Miles and has Battery Left Over

The Mercedes EQXX is a concept built by the automotive giant to test build the ultimate efficient EV. It is stunning to look at – harking back to the Jaguar E Type, the EQXX is the sort of car teenage boys would have posters of on their walls. A luxury car that can manage hyper efficient driving.

With a battery no larger than that of a Tesla Model S, it managed a run from Germany to the Mediterranean coast of 620 miles on one charge in normal traffic. At the destination the car computer said it had 87 miles of range left.

The EQXX is a concept car that won’t likely go on sale. If you want a car that will do 500+ miles per charge, try to get your hands on a Lucid Air Dream Edition R. This has a US EPA certified range of 520 miles per charge.

The Engineering Side

Worldwide EV market leaders Tesla could have built an EV capable of 500 miles plus by now. It is rumoured that the upcoming Roadster and Cyber Truck will manage distances like that. In 2020 the company stated in its launch of the new long range Tesla Model S, “Mass is the enemy of both efficiency and performance…” There’s more to driving a car than long range.

A car needs to be good at cornering, and we all know about Teslas offering whiplash-inducing acceleration! With a tonne-plus lump of lithium in your car, these factors are hard to manage. Tesla’s core concept of making EVs ‘sexy’ is that they have to be great cars to drive, and with mass being the enemy of performance in their eyes, they have chosen not to go crazy on range.

The company, which has led the EV revolution, chooses instead to offer a network of fast-charging stations you can access across the UK, Europe and North America. With the car comes an opportunity to charge quickly on those rare drives where you won’t have to charge at home. We will look at this later.

EVs Now Can Go Further than You Can Drive

Mercedes didn’t say whether the EQXX driver needed the loo and had a supply of coffee to keep going for the 11 hour drive or whether they did indeed stop to for a rest!

This is the point – human drivers need to take rest breaks on longer drives. If a 600+ mile drive at 54mph was possible without a break, lorry drivers would not have legally mandated rest breaks are part of their work. Without those laws, there would be a lot more accidents as tired drivers made mistakes. And yes, if the police suspect you are tired (even without alcohol or drugs in your system) they can do you for dangerous driving – it isn’t just lorry drivers bound by the law on safe driving.

Fast Charging on Long Distances – Mapping

EVs are different to drive to ICE cars.

Most newer EVs will take a DC rapid charge of around 50kW, or around 100 miles in 35 minutes. Car companies are making cars that will take ultra-rapid charges of 150kW which will mean 100 miles in 10 minutes.

It is worth noting that rapid and ultra-rapid charging stations charge more per kWh than fast and destination chargers. As with motorway service stations charging more for liquid fuel, it is going to be a much cheaper run if you don’t use rapids all the time.

An Example of a Long Journey by EV

Let’s imagine you’re about to do a journey of 400 miles in an EV with a range of 400 miles.

Ahead of a long journey in an ICE car you may fill up at your local supermarket and try to avoid the ridiculous prices at motorway service stations. On an EV you will have plugged it in at home overnight and told the smart charger to give it 100%. This is where things get a bit different.

In an ICE car you may try to avoid motorway service stations and refuel at a supermarket at the other end. You will have stopped for coffee, bladder and lunch over the 400 miles before you arrive.

Assuming you have a 400 mile range EV you won’t be able to fast charge beyond 80% as most cars’ charging systems won’t allow it for safety reasons. You will likely drive 100 miles (25%) in the first leg, take a short charge in the time it takes to get a coffee and stretch your legs and then another 100 miles when it will be time for another, longer break.

Here you will get a burger, have a break and get a coffee while the 50kW DC charger puts in 25% charge for the next leg. After lunch you will be at 75% charge.

The final two legs will involve a coffee break (not 25%) and you will get to your destination with around 50% charge in your battery. You will have likely booked a hotel with a destination charger so you plug in overnight and then enjoy your day out with 100% the next day. You won’t even need to find a petrol station as you would with your ICE car!

Mapping Apps

While Tesla’s in-car mapping app has its charger network included, if you’re not in a Tesla you will likely use something like Zap Map to plan your journey. Ahead of the trip you will use the app on your phone to plan your route between the shorter and longer stops.

You will plan a coffee at one service station and lunch at the next, with the car getting just the charge it needs at each stop. Zap Map isn’t free but it is the go-to app for most longer EV journeys. If you’re heading out to the South of France you can use an international system like Charge Map, though Zap Map are getting better at international routes too with greater coverage of Europe.

Don’t Believe the Newspapers!

The old adage of ‘don’t believe what you read in the papers’ is a truism where it comes to driving an EV today. They have spawned myths that EV drivers laugh at all the time on social media. They laugh because range anxiety is now a joke in this world.

Though driving around parts of the UK – Dorset, Devon and Northumberland among them – can involve longer journeys between chargers you won’t run out of battery with a little care in your route planning.

EV driving has come of age and is actually easier in some respects than ICE car driving. If you’re on holiday in a village in the back of beyond and are at a hotel with a destination charger, it’ll be easier to get fuel than finding out where the nearest supermarket is!